This Thing That We Call 'Failure' is Not The Falling Down, but the Staying Down. - Kickstarter Failure by Jeff Hurcomb
This is a guest post written by Jeff Hurcomb, we were not paid to post this article. The thoughts expressed here do not represent the views of the We're Not Wizards Team.
“Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it.”
I’m a guy that loves a good quote and it took me a while to pick what quote I thought best summed up this guest post, but this really nails it because I will be discussing a topic I haven’t been able to find posted anywhere else. Getting over your Kickstarter not being funded.
Anybody that has ever launched a Kickstarter knows the feeling. That feeling you get as your cursor hovers over the launch button to make your campaign live and give you 30 days to make your dream become a reality. There are already thousands of posts about how to create a successful campaign and hundreds more about how to re-launch your campaign if it doesn’t get backed, but there is nothing regarding getting over the emotional toll an unsuccessful campaign can take.
I am a creator that has watched his dream collapse twice!
First, let’s set up the excitement of creating a board game.
When you’re creating a game you’re focused on making it the very best it can be. You come that person that is always asking friends, family or anybody else you can rope in to try your game and give feedback. Your evenings move away from whatever you did before, be it watch T.V, play videos games or spend time with partners or children. To spending time on the computer writing and editing rules, hiring artists and reading everything you possibly can on kickstarting a board game. It honestly comes your baby and just like a baby, it takes over your life.
And that’s only the time aspect of creating a game. Artist don’t work for free. Well, at least good ones don’t. Plus you’ll need previews as well as some money left over for advertising. This can become a significant amount of money for some people and can literally mean making sacrifices such as giving up some luxuries of life just to have the money to invest into your game.
Now your game, your baby has a hold of your time and your money. Lastly, it also takes a piece of you. And as you work on your game you will begin to visualize, dream of your potential future. You see yourself stressed out by the shipping and fulfilling of your funded campaign. You wonder what conventions you’ll attend to sell off remaining stock. You imagine yourself talking to fans of your game possibly even asked to make a little presentation about how you got successful.
But if anything, the most nerve-racking step is clicking the launch button. The days leading up to having to click that button can really start to play on you. I felt like throwing up at one point as the nerves got to me. It’s such an easy action to click launch, but in all honesty, it does take a bit of courage to say to the world judge what I have created.
As my game looked less and less likely to be funded I continued to look at the marketing plan I wrote and wonder what I should do to get more backers? By the end of the first few days, it felt like I had done everything I had written down and the second time around I decided to have a marketing plan with activities for each day so I always had something I could work on to try and bring more people to my campaign.
What follows for a campaign that doesn’t fund can destroy the soul and I’m sure for some get very depressing. You’ve imagined how it should go and to watch as it doesn’t fund as fast as you had hoped and soon doesn’t fund as fast as you know it needs to, to be a success. Nothing you do helps and it comes a battle to decide if you should continue to what now seems like the bitter end and receiving that email saying you didn’t successfully fund or just cancel the project yourself and admit defeat.
Whichever option you pick it’s going to hurt! Not succeeding hurts. But through the pain, there’s one key thing you must always remember. While you didn’t succeed, you aren’t a failure. To be a failure you would have thought of a game idea, said to yourself, “that’s a great idea I wish there was a game like that”, then never done anything about it.
What follows are the steps I recommend you follow to help you get over a Kickstarter campaign not succeeding. I’d almost say this should be required reading for anybody about to launch a campaign just in case you don’t make it.
Step 1: Feel it. More than likely you’re going to feel disappointed and sad having watched your dream not come to fruition. The best thing you can do is let yourself feel those feelings. Don’t try and push them down. Give yourself 24 hours to wallow in sadness and grieve for what you wished had been.
Step 2: Time away. Take some time away from your game. Go back to doing what you use to enjoy doing before you spent all your time working on your game. It’s exactly like a breakup you need time for yourself. For me, it was having a lot more time to enjoy playing video games and time with family. Having time away will help you clear your head.
Step 3: Don’t make it personal. Realize this key piece of advice. Just because your game didn’t get successfully funded doesn’t define you as a person. Often our fear of failure is rooted in our fear of being judged by others. Don’t let this step back be what you believe others identify you with.
Step 4: Take stock of your achievements. Now realize an important point. You’re not a failure. When you started this adventure as a game designer how much did you know about Kickstarter? Marketing? Game design? Shipping and logistics? Being able to sit down and work out financial numbers? I’m 100% sure that for at least one of those you answered, none. You’ve grown as a person. You have experience that others who haven’t launched a Kickstarter don’t. You might even find that what you have learned making a game could help you in your professional life.
Step 5: Relook at your game with a new point of view. After a while, it comes time to think what you want. What outcome will make you happy? Is having tried once enough? Do you want to improve your game and relaunch the Kickstarter? Do you want to do what I’m doing and put up a print and play version and call it a day? Or possibly you need to be like the many unpublished amateur novelists out there and put this game into the cupboard so to speak and begin work on something new using the experience and knowledge you’ve gained to help make something a lot better.
Lastly, you will find that after any setback, be it in successfully funding a board game on Kickstarter, launching a business or anything that is an improve your situation goal that people will tell you, “you tried. Now you can stop”. They’ll give you an out. That because it didn’t work out the first time there’s no point in trying again. I’ve always found this argument absurd. At no point in your life when a relationship failed did anybody come and tell you, “well you tried being in a relationship. It didn’t work out. No point in dating every again”. No of course not. You were told there’s someone out there for you and to get back on the horse. Same for finding a job, “you didn’t get this one. You’ll get the next one”. People will happily push you to follow the normal path, but they are less enthusiastic to tell you that your next business will be the one to succeed. Take solace in those that motivate you and push you to come better and to continue trying. And leave the others to follow their own advice. Those that risk nothing, risk being nothing. You, my friend, will continue risking and possibly become something.
If you do decide to improve upon your game and relaunch not only is there a multitude of resources out there to help you, but you’ll find that as your dream has died in front of you once you won’t be so attached to it. You’ll put up everything to be critiqued and criticized and use every piece of advice to recraft a game a 100% times better than the original.
You won’t be scared to launch again. You’ve experienced what it’s like to not get funded. The world didn’t end. You’re still fine. If it happens again you’ll know that just because one of your ideas didn’t work out doesn’t mean a different idea won’t.
Because let’s face it, most of us know that failure is an aspect of life, and understand that it actually helps us grow. We’ve read stories of the greatest achievers past and present who routinely experience huge failures only to come back again.
Not succeeding can take an emotional toll, and that’s okay. We may hate failing, we may fear it, dread it even, but when it does happen we can never let it hold on to us. Never give it power over our emotions or affect our way forward.
As I mentioned, in the beginning, I’m a guy that loves a good quote possibly my favorite was one written to me after finishing up a volunteering job with difficult children. This quote has become my credo and I leave it with you as an inspiration.
“Some men dream of completing their goals. Make it your goal to complete your dreams”
Card Master can be bought online at https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/card-master
You can follow Jeff on https://twitter.com/bethecardmaster